The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Inaugural Presentation of the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers

Rideau Hall, Tuesday, April 12, 2016


If there were such a thing as a Team Canada for volunteers, this would be it!

Each of you has been invited to attend this inaugural presentation of the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers for one simple reason:

Because volunteering is what you do.

You do it superbly.

And selflessly.

And tirelessly.

Why do you do it? What drives you?

I have a theory.

It’s very old, yet revolutionary.

It’s called love.

That’s what drives you.

Love for people.

For your communities.

For this country and for a better world.

And service is love made visible. As the saying goes, “Service is the rent we pay for our space on Earth.”

It’s remarkable: love is one of the most powerful resources we can draw upon, yet we very rarely talk about it in public.

Why is that?

I think it’s because we’re afraid to.

We’re afraid to open up, afraid to look foolish, afraid to be seen as weak, or sentimental, or simple-minded.

And yet, so many remarkable people throughout history have placed a strong emphasis on love.

Think of Mother Teresa, or here in Canada, think of Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche which has done such wonderful work with people with developmental disabilities.

These were tough, serious-minded, pragmatic people. No one would call them weak or foolish.

They made the world a better place.

People are at their very best when they love. They become radiant. 

We see this with our recipients today. It’s not just the bright lights in this ballroom!

You’re radiant!

It’s such a privilege to present you with the Medal for Volunteers today.

This new medal builds upon the legacy of the Caring Canadian Award, created in 1995 by my predecessor, Roméo LeBlanc.

Part of the Canadian Honours System, the Medal for Volunteers was approved by Her Majesty The Queen. It features two hearts supporting each other to represent generosity and caring.

These hearts are surrounded by a sunburst to represent the volunteering of time and energy in support of worthy causes.

One of the best things about this honour is that recipients are nominated from within their communities.

Each of your names was put forward by someone who knows your work, how much you care and how much you give.

Together, you span generations!

You hail from right across this vast country!

You represent our values and the kind of country we want to live in and that we want our kids and our grandkids to live in!

I encourage all of you—our inaugural recipients—to think of deserving people you know, and nominate them for this honour.

In other words, share the love!

That’s one way we will widen the circle of caring in Canada.

This medal is to say thank you for your extraordinary contributions to your communities and to Canada over many years.

Congratulations on this well-deserved honour!